Art As Social Inquiry

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MOVING INTO COMPASSION: An art project, Art As Social Inquiry is also a process — curiosity to connection to compassion. Pussi Artist takes ASI’s paintings on the road… Bits of performance art, conversation and information, this talk is the story of a former business owner who reignited a love affair with art, and was dizzied by all she felt, saw, and experienced on her way to the true meaning of compassion.


ART & ADVOCACY: USING ART FOR SOCIAL CHANGE is the title of Pussi’s latest talk. 

2.2.12 Capitol Aiden & Sis get history lesson

Pussi shares stories of her tumble into the rabbit hole where the uninsured and sick with no employer-sponsored insurance were left scratching their way out of nightmarish medical events. Who are these people, anyway?

The portraits tell the story. Behind every medical bankruptcy, untreated chronic disease, and death due to lack of access to healthcare there is a face.  Haunted by these faces and stories, the artist squared off with her government in Washington DC, and at home in Pennsylvania using her First Amendment right of free speech and assembly.  

Five months of “standing” with portraits in our nation’s capital changes a person.   The artist shares her personal story of transformation.

“Such an inspiration. I was in this class today. Thanks for coming!”  Bonnie S. student, Rutgers School of Social Work

“You come well endorsed!” Cheryl O.A., Buxmont Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Pussi Artist is a documentary portrait painter. She creates artworks that explore social issues like access to healthcare, death and dying, and immigration. She became a  PA Health Access Network Affordable Care Act certified trainer of the Affordable Care Act. She used her portraits and the stories behind the faces as a way to explain the new healthcare law, and how it would affect real people.

With her new art project, “How We Die,” Pussi uses art to investigate how people actually die, and how different cultures around the world view death.

Pussi continues to document this next chapter in our nation’s story of access to healthcare by interviewing and painting portraits of people who are using the new healthcare law.

2014 Rutgers Talk FB Cover Photo

~ Summer/Fall 2012  Pussi took her talk,  Truth Tour Medicare 2012: What’s at Stake?  across her district (PA-8) and beyond.She used her portraits to talk about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Pussi spoke at senior centers and other venues. The focus of her talk was to debunk the political rhetoric around the law so citizens could make informed decisions.

~ Portraits, Power & Politics: Social inquiry through art lead to a crisis of conscience, a love affair with the First Amendment, thumbs up for healthcare reform, and personal transformation.


Inquiries: Pussi Artist


An artist wonders how the heck she ended up on the sidewalk of the US Supreme Court and Capitol with portraits and signs asking the movers and shakers of our government why they have real access to healthcare, and all Americans do not?

In 2008 Pussi began using her art, portrait painting, to tell stories of how people in the US were accessing healthcare. By 2011, she had begun to untangle the multi-tentacled system called healthcare in the US.  She understood that those outside of employer-sponsored insurance were at the mercy of for-profit forces determined not to insure anyone who would decrease profits.  Insuring sick people was not profitable. Many could not get insurance.

By 2012 a crisis of conscience surfaced. “If I don’t speak up about what’s really happening to people trying to access healthcare, who will?” She had been interviewing people, absorbing their stories and pain for 4 years. She saw the real-life consequences of being uninsured or under-insured. Great stress, bankruptcies, even death.

Pussi exercised her First Amendment rights by taking her portraits to Washington D.C. to stand in front of the US Supreme Court and Capitol.  She symbolically confronted her government. This singular act of standing with purpose turned her into a target.  Voices  —  aggressive, supportive, inquisitive — came at her 5 hours a day, 3 days a week for 5 months.

People wanted to talk about the healthcare law. The Affordable Care Act had not yet been fully implemented. Everybody had an opinion.  And studying the law became her top priority. First off, she had to know if this new law would even help the people she had painted, and the millions they represented.  Secondly, she was being grilled about the law while she stood all those hours with the portraits. That’s a lot of talking….requiring a lot of studying. (Yes, Pussi came out in support of the Affordable Care Act.)

Pussi is “closing act” at the conference held by The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. The group unwound after a productive conference.

Pussi stood with portraits from January 2012 through May 2012.  She returned for one day in June to stand with portraits in front of the US Supreme Court when the court Court issued their decision regarding the constitutionality of the healthcare law.  ( Btw,the Affordable Care Act was ruled constitutional.)

This presentation covers Pussi’s personal impetus for starting the portrait series on healthcare. What does it feel like to actually use the First Amendment to confront our representatives in person? Why she supports the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare. What are her conclusions from having had her finger on the pulse of the American public. The good, the bad and the ugly…in herself and all of us.

A book about the experience is in progress.

Pussi Artist